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May is National Skin Awareness Month and the dermatologists are encouraging people to do regular self-examinations and skin cancer screenings. Ultraviolet light from the sun can have dangerous effects on the skin when it’s not protected.
“Because exposure to UV light is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, the American Academy of Dermatology encourages everyone to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays by seeking shade, wearing protective clothing and using a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor of 30 or higher,” according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Even when taking regular protective measures, it’s important to examine your body for any unusual growths. The American Academy of Dermatology provides steps on what to look for when it comes to skin cancer and how to perform self-examinations.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Warning signs of skin cancer include changes in size, shape or color of a mole or other skin lesion. Another sign is if there are any spots on your skin that’s different from the rest of the body. It can also be anything that changes, itches or bleeds. When looking for signs of skin cancers on a mole or growth, follow the ABCDEs of melanoma which is the deadliest form of skin cancer.
• A = Asymmetry: Check if one half is unlike the other half.
• B = Border: Check for an irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.
• C = Color: Check to see if it’s varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown or black, or is sometimes white, red or blue.
• D = Diameter: Melanomas are usually greater than 6 millimeters (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed but they can be smaller.
• E = Evolving: Check for a mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
If any of these signs are identified, make an appointment with a dermatologist.
• Look over the front and back of your body in the mirror. Also make sure to examine the right and lefts sides with the arms raised.
• Bend the elbows and look carefully at the forearms, upper underarms and palms.
• Examine the backs of your legs and feet, the spaces between your toes and the soles of your feet.
• Examine the back of your neck and scalp with a hand mirror. Part the hair for a closer look.
• Check the back and buttocks with a hand mirror.
For more information about Skin Awareness Month or skin cancer prevention, visit the website www.aad.org.